Monday, May 4, 2009

Literary Consultant Jeffrey Moores

Last week, I participated in two nights of live chat hosted by with guest speaker Literary Consultant Jeffrey Moores. To introduce Jeff, his consulting advice is more market specific than other freelance editors. Advises on editorial and agenting. Line and developmental editing is flavored by knowledge of the current market.

Jeff led lively and informative discussions, first on the business industry and then on craft. We threw out our questions and here's a few of his comments.

Jeff says to approach our query in a nonfiction way even for fiction; letter more about where we fit in the market, who our audience is. He suggests we personalize our approaches briefly. Personalize: Quick and simple explanation why approaching a specific agent. Example: “I’m contacting you because of your work with Alice Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES, whose readers I feel would enjoy my novel.” 

From here, be professional and convey a sense of confidence in our own writing. Doing our “homework” should include a broader explanation of our book within the market. More important to make wide comparisons to novel (thematically, etc.) rather than waste page on drawn-out plot synopsis.

Here’s another tip from Jeff. The best way to “establish” your voice is to first, foremost, FIND your voice. Exercise one’s skill until it’s easily controllable. To a certain extent, voice can be taught. It’s what makes the difference between published and unpublished writers.

Jeff also believes that in this economic climate, it is best to concentrate on our craft rather than an immediate goal for publication. Isn’t this what many of us are reading about and hearing these days?

Jeff recommends an exercise: Write a one-sentence description of book. Then do it again. Then, again. Write 5-10 different one-sentence descriptions of your book. Play with the syntax and don’t be afraid to dig.

One last tip: If you’ve received a slightly personalized decline, chances are it has at least been across an agent’s desk.

To learn more about Jeffrey Moores and his new literary consultant business, visit his site here.

Writerly friends; keep writing and keep reading. Until next time . . .


  1. Hi Jean Ann,
    I, too, participated in the chat at Agent Query. In fact, I was one of the guinea pigs with my first paragraph. I was just getting ready to email him and ask about his fees for query letter consults when I came across your blog. It's a small literary world. I've decided to send out another round of queries and trying to decide if I needed professional help. (No pun intended!) Anyway...good luck with your own writing. What's your moniker at Agent Query?

  2. Thank you, Yvonne, for your comment! My moniker at Agent Query is my name, Jean Ann.

    Good luck with your own writing, also.

    Jean Ann